This series focuses on the right dating behavior and how to make the best choices so that you land in a wonderful relationship!
The Temptation. Have you been through this? He’s charming, fun, and sexy, and he wants you! He pursues, asks you out, and lavishes you with attention. He knows all your emotional "hot buttons" right up front and pushes them freely. You begin falling in love, hoping that he’s "the one." There’s just one little problem – his character. You are smack in the middle of the temptation to love the wounded guy.*
Character issues. You know someone has character issues when the majority of his life problems are because of "other people." You know he has character issues when his past is littered with one or more of the following: broken love relationships, broken career paths, broken finances, and maybe even trouble with the law. You know he has character issues when his "story" is all about how others did him wrong minus the acknowledgement that he had a role in those scenarios.
Everyone has baggage in life – it’s unavoidable. When it comes to emotional baggage, there is carry on luggage and then there are steamer trunks! The wounded guy with character issues has steamer trunks. But the worst part is that he uses his sad tale of woe to get off the hook of taking personal responsibility to make the most of life now. When he hooks a good hearted woman, he drains her of her emotional (and sometimes financial) resources to fill up his empty well, rather than being an asset to her.
The emotional trap. His character issues may appear to you as the need for healing. "He’s a good guy, he’s just had a hard life," you reason. Deep down, you begin to envision yourself as his angel of mercy – the one woman who can heal his heart and uncover the Prince Charming that other women overlooked.
The reality. Character issues are unsolvable by another person. Typically, they are the result of deep down, very traumatic life experiences. The problem is that most men with real character issues are hard-wired that way by the time you meet them. Years and years of therapy may help him, but he would have to want that in a BIG way for it to help. Meanwhile, the woman in this troubled man’s life gets the very raw end of a bad deal. Why? Because she cannot get her needs met with him – he is simply not emotionally available. Secondly, he will bring legal and other issues into her life resulting in an ongoing drama-rama that is emotionally, perhaps financially draining, and potentially threatening to her health.
The solution. How do you discover that a guy has character issues? The bottom line is that it takes time and the willingness to test. Pacing a relationship for true discovery works. This means putting off sex for a long time – months – while you peel back the layers of charm to see if there is an emotionally available person underneath. It means asking very pointed questions up front and listening for the bull___ factor. It means trusting your own internal compass – the intuition that tells you something is off. I’ve counseled many, many women over the years who succumbed to the temptation of loving a wounded guy, and all of them when looking back could name the many warning signs and red flags that they ignored.
Bottom line: be true to yourself. Be adamantly committed to your own well being first, having a man second. Pace your relationships for true discovery, honor the early warning signs, and be willing to exit if you begin to see character issues. If you’re not sure, run it by your friends and family – with no stake in the game they are in a more objective position. Most of the women I’ve counseled on this topic failed to ask for the people closest to them to take a look at the guy they were falling in love with. In every case, the feedback later was that others could see what they failed to acknowledge.
*To find out more about the temptation to love a wounded guy, see Nina’s book, Temptations of the Single Girl: the Ten Dating Traps You Must Avoid (Wheatmark, 2007).
I read the Series: Dating for Success. My comment: When we are past 40, most of the people (men) we meet in life have baggage and have been through life's ups and downs over and over (have made many mistakes). It is hard enough waiting for a soulmate/Mr Right/a good fit and you are saying not only to be cautious of these men when we meet them, but to peel their layers until we find the person, if he exists. Uh! That might be too late and too long. I would prefer to fit in his life and he in mine (if he wants me to), and help one another with our issues and living in the present. I agree on the no sex until you are sure of his intentions and if you both want a committed or non committed relationship with sex. And I'm glad you say to put yourself first,,,as it should be, until you are sure of this man.
Nina Atwood, M.Ed., LPC, is a licensed therapist, published author, and host of the hit Web site, Singlescoach®. Nina has been featured in national magazines, newspapers, on radio and television. She is the author of four self-help books, including her newest book, Temptations of the Single Girl: The Ten Dating Traps You Must Avoid. Listen live or via downloadable podcasts to "Love Strategies" with Nina weekly at www.blogtalkradio.com/nina-atwood. Nina is an award-winning CEO Coach for Vistage and does one-on-one coaching with key level executives.